Tuesday, April 28, 2009


"We are faced in the prophecy of Isaiah with the truth and reality of a Biblical view of history for mankind, especially fallen mankind; for those engaged in political philosophy in our modern day; for those who are evolutionary in their thinking. We commonly think of history as progressive from the past into the present and from the present into the future. A Biblical philosophy of history, which is the only true philosophy of history, is that time progresses from the future into the present and from the present into the past, because of divine predestination. There are those who deprecate any idea of predestination, but without predestination we cannot have in the Word of God either prophecy or promise, and all certainty is removed." -- William R. Downing on Isaiah 45:13-25

"I wish the reader to consider the unreasonableness of rejecting plain revelations just because they are puzzling to our reason. There is no greater difficulty attending this doctrine than the contrary, nor so great. So that, though the doctrine of the decrees is mysterious, and attended with difficulties, yet the opposite doctrine is in itself more mysterious, and attended with greater difficulties, and with contradictions to reason more evident to one who thoroughly considers things so that even if the Scripture had made no revelation of it, we would have had reason to believe it. But since the Scripture is so abundant in declaring it, the unreasonableness of rejecting it appears the more glaring." -- Jonathan Edwards on Job 7:1 and Isaiah 16:14

"I believe that nothing happens apart from divine determination and decree; even the little things in life are not overlooked by the all-seeing eye. All things are under regulation, and have an appointed place in God's plan; and nothing happens, after all, but what He permits or ordains." -- C. H. Spurgeon on James 4:13-17
Compiled by W.F. Bell 10/1/08. "That in all things He [Christ] may have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18).

Friday, April 17, 2009


"According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust" (I Timothy 1:11).

"Gospel" means "good news," and indeed it is, for this heavenly news tells of "the glory of the blessed God,” which, according to Paul, was entrusted to him.

There are many words which describe the gospel in all its glory, but for our purposes here let us look at only three: incarnation, propitiation, justification. Embodied within these words are deep doctrinal truths which are essential to a proper understanding of the one, true gospel.

Incarnation. As C.H. Spurgeon has so aptly stated: "No idea of the Lord Jesus Christ approaches to correctness which does not see in His one dear person the two natures of God and man united. In that person, wherein were blended, but not confused, the Godhead and the Manhood, a practical faith has its most ample help."

By incarnation we simply mean the "becoming flesh" of the Son of God. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth " (John 1:14). Note that in the incarnation Jesus the Christ was the glory of God the Father tabernacling among men! This is beyond human understanding, yet a cardinal truth of the gospel. "God was in Christ," said Paul (2 Corinthians 5:19). "God was manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16).

Apart from God the eternal Son becoming man we poor sinners could never find or know the living God. Though the gospel message is often scorned for its "narrowness," still it declares: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). This means all other religions and religious leaders are false, and it means also that any preacher or church daring to preach "another gospel" comes under God's awful anathema/curse (Galatians 1:6-9).

Propitiation. No word more adequately describes the heart of the glorious gospel than "propitiation." The three occurrences of the word in the KJV are Romans 3:25, I John 2:2, and I John 4:10. In modernistic "Bibles" (as the RSV or NEB) the word "propitiation" has been removed, proving the distaste modern man has for the doctrinal gospel of the New Testament. While "expiation" is certainly involved in propitiation, the latter term means far more. Expiation denotes the covering or putting away of sin, but propitiation means the pacifying of the wrath of God against sin and sinners.

Other Bible words are pregnant with meaning also: reconciliation (peace-making after hatred and war), redemption (rescue by ransom), and sacrifice (the offering of a substitute). See Romans 5:10, Galatians 3:13, and Ephesians 5:2. These words all picture and illustrate the reality of propitiation, and do not imply variation of thought in the writers of the New Testament.

Here is the crucial point: there is only one divine remedy for human sin—the death of Christ at the cross. The sufferings and shame of the God-man alone satisfy divine justice against sinful men. Scripture verifies over and over that this is God's way of saving sinners: "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief" (Isaiah 53:10). "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:9-10).

Justification. To be "declared righteous" is what the gospel of grace is all about. Without free and full justification there could be no "good news" in the gospel. But, because of eternal love and the blood-shedding of the Lamb of God, those chosen to salvation are eternally acquitted at the bar of God's justice. "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). Leap for joy, child of God, for in that verse is your whole salvation! Christ Jesus, the mighty Jehovah, has accomplished salvation for all his people; it is all by his grace, and it is through his redemption/death. All merit is in Christ, therefore he receives all praise.

Justification is solely "by faith" and not by the works of the creature (any works, whatever they may be). "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:27-28).

Justification does not mean we are sinlessly righteous, only that we have been declared righteous. Nor does being justified mean that we are no longer sinners within ourselves, for we will ever be nothing but sinners by nature. But, this is where the glorious gospel continues to magnify God's grace: those whom God justifies he also sanctifies (that is, he gives them a heart to love God and hate sin). Holy desires within our breasts assure us that God is at work in our affections, and that we are justified (I Peter 2:9-12).

Do you thus see the glory of God in the gospel of grace: his power, wisdom, righteousness, truth, and love? In Christ's incarnation and propitiation do we as sinners have complete justification.

Friday, April 10, 2009



There was a popular song back in the 1970’s with that title. It was written in 1970 by Hoyt Axton, and originally sung by Three Dog Night, the Australian group. Elvis Presley had a version of it that I remember. He sang it in live concerts. The lyrics indicated a fascination with the beauty, and intrigue of the Spanish nation, and its women, and a curiosity to go there on the part of the singer; yet, in the song, he never got there. I always thought I would like to go there, and although I have been in England and France, that is as close as I have come so far in my life of 64 years.

Paul the apostle planned to go to Spain. “Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come unto you” (Romans 15:24). This was his human plan, but in God’s purpose he met a detour. The ultimate detour was to Rome where Paul was executed. We may think an apostle would know whether his ambition would come true or not, but Paul did not. Was God’s purpose thwarted? Was Paul’s life cut short (other that in a human sense)? No! Emphatically no! Remember “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27), and “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23). God had a purpose in Paul dying in Rome, and not on the isle of Melita when the viper bit him (Acts 28:1-6), or in Jerusalem (Acts 23:27), or Lystra when he was stoned (Acts 14:19). We can see some of His purpose in the thriving early church there in Rome. There were in subsequent years, many others executed there for Christ’s sake. There were many Christians in that empire then, and many more martyrs after the Roman church became the heretical Roman Catholic church with all its corruption.

Yet in the early days the gospel spread from there, as it had from Jerusalem earlier. God had a purpose in Paul not getting to Spain, but Rome instead. Paul had wanted to see Rome also, but I see nothing to indicate he expected to die there; at least not at first. Later, as he was under imprisonment, he knew he would not get to Spain, for he told Timothy “For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand . I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:6-7). I may never get to Spain either, but if I can have a testimony similar to Paul at the end, I won’t care. Follow Paul as he followed Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1).


By the way, another thing regarding Elvis; as almost everyone knows, they had a big hoopla in Memphis on August 16th, the anniversary of his death 30 years ago. His daughter, Lisa Marie, now 39 years old, sang a duet with him of In The Ghetto. It was all done by photographic and holographic magic, I guess. I have not seen that performance. A few months earlier on American Idol, Canadian singer Celine Dion sang a duet with him of If I Can Dream . I saw that one. It looked as though he was really there, living and breathing, and singing, but, of course he wasn‘t. As my grandson told me “Elvis has left the planet.” The frightening thing about all this is that through digital animation, and special effects photography, they can make many things appear to be so that are not. Did you see the flying saucer hoax that came from Australia? That one was so well done that it even had the experts saying it was real! It did look absolutely real. Can’t you see the way this could go if you had an enemy with access to this technology that wanted to frame you? We are in an era of strange things. Even everything moral and sacred is under attack. “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). I am glad we serve a God that cannot be defeated; a Christ that will gather His elect from the corners of the earth.. Whatever lies ahead, He is with us, and He is coming back.. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

( Editor's note:These articles were written in August 2007 and were originally published in our Morsels and Tidbits publication; so please keep that in mind regarding the dates mentioned. cw)